The contrasts were deliberately sharp and well-defined: I was an international student mingling with American citizens; I was Muslim whereas I chose to attend a Baptist church; I was white whereas much of the congregation was black; and, I was an "outsider" in nearly each and every respect. From a cultural point of view, this was stretching the differences rather tightly.
As an initial matter, I must admit that I was very nervous and a bit uncertain. As I was driving to the church, a million different things went through my mind. I was often hesitant and excited at the same time. I was hesitant because I felt quite awkward attending a religious service so different than my own. I have heard many things about Christianity and I have had many Christian friends; despite this superficial familiarity, I didn't know whether I would be welcome at the church. I wondered whether people might ask me personal questions, such as whether I had been baptized a Christian, and I wondered whether I ought to answer truthfully that I was a Muslim or whether I ought to simply lie and try to be accepted. More confusing was the fact that I didn't really understand the different nuances of the Christian religion. ...Show more